Prog rockers Dream Theater
tallied 19 years as a band with the release of Octavarium
, but in listening you're apt to suspect otherwise. As a collective they remain as tight as they were on 2003's obsessively dark Train of Thought
(like all music-school outfits, they've exacted an all-for-one formula that doesn't allow a single player more than his share of swagger), but a post-hardcore edge -- call it a leap into 2005 -- has invaded their pledge of allegiance to theatrical heavy rock. Hear it on "I Walk Beside You" and "The Answer Lies Within," both of which, at under five minutes, play like charming haikus from a band known for its epic poetry, and also on the orchestra-backed 20-plus-minute final cut, which skips around from Pink Floyd
to Black Sabbath
influences, stopping off every so often at a place fans of My Chemical Romance
might find familiar. As with all the band's discs, guitars loom large and both doom and redemption seem no further than the next twisted verse. What's changed is Dream Theater
's commitment to carrying on their reputation as underground progressive rock's classicists, and it seems well-timed.